On the night of the Fourth of July, I flew into New Orleans. I watched from above as fireworks sailed from below into the sky to celebrate Independence Day. The young man from a small Louisiana coastal town sitting next to me said "I've never seen fireworks from above." "Me neither."
"I've never been on a plane before this either," he added.
A few hours later I was back in the sky, this time flying above a different kind of fireworks. The kind that mourn our dependence. Our small Cessna traced the coast of Louisiana and Mississippi, documenting the flow of oil and tar balls onto islands, wetlands, mangroves, beaches and the inadequacy of the bright yellow and orange booms floating here and there and more often than not, beachcast and twisted by the wind and waves.